Our daily meals are closely related to our health. What are you usually careful about for your health? Do you ever struggle to decide which foods are good for you when you try to eat healthily?
That's where "seaweed" comes in.
Seaweed is not only low in fat and healthy, but it's also rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and protein, making it a food that efficiently provides nutrients that are often lacking. Furthermore, it's been discovered that seaweed contains beneficial nutrients and functions that cannot be obtained from land-based plants.
Here, we'll introduce the general nutritional value of seaweed and the unique health benefits it offers.
1. Treasure treasure of "dietary fiber" that adjusts the whole body from the intestine
2. Plenty of "minerals" that adjusts the body of the sea
3. "Vitamins" required for the body even in small amounts
4. Good quality "protein」
5. High quality lipids even with low -fat, low -calorie small amounts
1. Seaweed are Treasure Trove of Dietary Fiber
｜Abundant with Water -Soluble Dietary Fiber
The slimy component of seaweed, known as "mucilaginous substance," is actually soluble dietary fiber, which works excellently in the intestines. Dietary fiber has become essential for health nowadays, and it's divided into soluble and insoluble types.
What's remarkable about seaweed is that it contains both types, with a particularly high content of soluble dietary fiber. Seaweed is said to contain a lot of soluble dietary fiber because it grows in turbulent waves, requiring an elastic and flexible body.
A crucial point in terms of nutrition is not to focus solely on either insoluble or soluble fiber but to balance both. In our daily diet, soluble fiber tends to be lacking, so it's important to be mindful of incorporating it.
This is where seaweed comes into play. Since the functions of soluble and insoluble fiber differ, incorporating seaweed into your diet can help balance your nutrient intake.
｜ A Small Cup Provides 10% of Daily Dietary Fiber Intake.
Dietary fiber has gained attention for its beneficial effects on the body, such as promoting intestinal regularity, earning it the title of the "sixth nutrient."
Seaweed contains an average of 43%¹ dietary fiber, and consuming a small bowlful (about 5g dried) provides approximately 2g of dietary fiber. This accounts for about 10% of the recommended daily intake², making seaweed a valuable source of dietary fiber.
*¹ Average value in dried seaweed (Reference: Collection and Component Analysis of Seaweeds for Fermentation Materials | Miyoshi et al., 2013, Fisheries Technology)
*² Recommended Intake: The recommended intake amount for preventing lifestyle-related diseases. The daily target for dietary fiber intake is 21g or more for men and 18g or more for women aged 18-64.
｜The Delightful Function of Unique Seaweed-Sourced Soluble Dietary Fiber
Seaweed's soluble dietary fiber contains unique components such as fucoidan, alginate, laminarin sulfate, and porphyran, which are generally not found in terrestrial plants.
These components are associated with various health benefits, including boosting immunity, regulating blood sugar and blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, improving liver function, and exhibiting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Plenty of Minerals for Maintaining Body Balance
Seaweed grown in seawater is rich in various minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, etc., which help maintain overall health and well-being.
Each mineral plays an important role, so let me introduce them one by one.
It is abundant in seaweeds such as Nori and Aonori.
Aonori contains 0.8 mg of iron per 1 gram, which is even more iron than a serving of spinach known for its high iron content (0.6 mg per 70g of edible portion). Adding just a sprinkle of Aonori to your dish can efficiently provide a substantial amount of iron.
It is also recommended to consume aonori with vitamin C and protein, which can enhance the absorption of iron.
When it comes to foods rich in calcium, milk often comes to mind. However, seaweed actually contains more calcium than milk.
For example, hijiki contains nine times more calcium* than milk. Additionally, kombu, wakame, and aonori are also rich sources of calcium.
On the other hand, seaweed has the advantage of containing less phosphorus, which can inhibit the absorption of calcium. In modern diets, calcium is often lacking, while phosphorus is found in a wide range of foods such as meat, fish, instant foods, and processed foods, leading to excessive intake. Since seaweed has a low phosphorus content, it can be considered an excellent source of calcium for balancing the overall diet.
*Reference: Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan (Eighth Revised Edition)
Calcium content per 100g of edible portion (dried hijiki/stainless steel dry/regular cow's milk)
Seaweeds such as Hijiki, Kombu, and Aonori are rich sources of potassium. While vegetables and fruits are known to contain potassium, seaweeds contain significantly higher amounts, making them a convenient ingredient for easily supplementing potassium even in small quantities.
However, individuals with kidney diseases may need to limit their potassium intake. It is important to consult with a primary healthcare provider for advice in such cases.
While magnesium may not be as familiar to some, it plays a crucial role in the overall functioning of the body. In modern diets, magnesium tends to be lacking, so it is one of the nutrients that you may want to consciously include in your diet.
Seaweeds contain a significantly high amount of magnesium compared to other food groups. In fact, seaweeds dominate the top 20 list of foods containing the highest amounts of magnesium per 100g.
*Reference: Food component database
Seaweeds such as kombu, hijiki, and wakame are rich sources of iodine.
Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism throughout the body and are crucial for children's growth and promoting metabolism.
*Note: It is said that iodine deficiency or long-term excessive intake can impair thyroid function. However, it is generally considered safe to consume iodine in amounts typically eaten in daily diets or occasionally in larger amounts. Therefore, it is important to consume iodine in moderation.
3. Essential Vitamins Needed by the Body
4. Good Quality of Protein
Some seaweeds are rich in protein. For example, while soybeans contain approximately 34g of protein per 100g, Amanori seaweed contains 41g, and Aonori seaweed contains 29g*¹ of protein.
Moreover, seaweeds contain a balanced profile of essential amino acids, which are often deficient in other plant-based sources. They also boast high amino acid scores, with Wakame seaweed scoring 100 and Amanori scoring 91*³. These values are comparable to those found in meat, fish, eggs, and soybeans.
Incorporating seaweeds into your diet can help balance your overall protein intake, ensuring you receive a variety of essential nutrients.
*¹ Food standard component table (8th revised)
*²Special amino acids: Nine types of amino acids that cannot be sufficiently synthesized in the body of 20 kinds of amino acids that make up the protein of human
*³ Amino acid score: A number that shows the quality of protein. It is a numerical representation of whether it contains an essential amino acid in a well -balanced manner in the protein of food
5. Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, High-Quality Fats Even in Small Amounts
Seaweeds contain minimal amounts of fat, making them a healthy food choice. However, the small amount of fat they do contain is of high quality. One important component of fats is "fatty acids," some of which are recommended for regular intake.
Seaweeds contain EPA and DHA, which are omega-3 fatty acids typically found in marine organisms. These fatty acids offer several potential benefits:
- EPA: Reduces triglycerides in the blood, prevents conditions like arteriosclerosis, and reduces the risk of blood clot formation.
- DHA: Prevents cardiovascular diseases, improves brain and nerve function.
Incorporating seaweeds into your diet can provide you with these beneficial fatty acids, contributing to overall health and well-being.